While there is a wealth of valuable information on the web and in these here forums, I'm going to share some personal insights about a recently attended IDPA (Intro) Clinic. Some points might underscore what's already out there; the rest are from experiences I didn't find online; all are from a beginner's POV. My local IDPA club requires passing their IDPA Clinic before participating in their matches. For beginners, I highly recommend it anyway. The clinic is about 1 hour classroom instruction; 1 hour dry fire drills; 2 hours live fire exercises, 3 progressive stages; 6 hours on a Saturday; $30. Reflections on First-Time/Introduction to IDPA • This Clinic and IDPA are not intended for the first-time shooter. Have the basics of shooting down (grip, sight alignment, trigger control, etc). You don’t have to start out an expert marksman in IDPA; you just need to be safe and in control. Send 1000+ rounds downrange before you do IDPA. • Practice holstering, drawing and re-holstering with an unloaded firearm at home in front of a mirror. Start slowly and deliberately to reinforce proper muscle mechanics. • All the info from the classroom portion and dry fire drills, you can garner by doing diligent homework on Google, YouTube and GlockForum. The benefit of the live instruction, as it is with all live instruction, is the ability to ask questions for clarification. • If this is your first experience with live-fire competition or live-fire movement, the first “evolution” is terrifying. The fear/nervousness/confusion is not in firing the weapon – you should not be a first-time shooter – the fear is of some extra exceptional mishap such as tripping and falling with a loaded firearm in your hand. Slow down; take your time! • Speed should be your last priority. This is for safety and for building muscle memory. You'll be thinking about a couple dozen things at once. Do yourself and everyone a favor, don't think about speed. Do not attempt it as a beginner. Speed will come in time. Slow is smooth; smooth is fast. • Re-holstering is not counted as part of your time so take your time to be safe. You will be asked to re-holster after your Course of Fire when the clock is off. Go ahead and look at what you’re doing. (Some beginners at the clinic were trying to re-holster without looking at their firearm, holster or especially fingers. Yikes.) • “You can’t miss fast enough.” In short, it is better to take an extra second to hit your target than to rush and miss. • Before your at-bat spend some time “taking down the COF” mentally. That is, visualize the scenario. Don't just stand around gabbing or seeing whose caliber is bigger. • If they say to bring 50 rounds of ammo (to the clinic), you will be fine with 75 rounds. 100 rounds will be more than enough. I brought 300 rounds; I used 40. • I used 230gr cheap-stuff FMJ. This was plenty minimum power factor for my Glock 21SF .45 caliber. Side observation: I saw a lot of S&W M&Ps, Springfield XDs, 1911s, one revolver and of course, a few Glocks. Most calibers at the clinic began with a "4". • The average distance to target was 8-10ft; the longest was maybe 15-18ft. • Dress in layers as the day gets warmer or cooler. There’s a reason why those vests are popular – they’re easy-on, cooler to wear (heat, not fashion), and stay out of the way. • By the third evolution, you will feel 10x more relaxed. I did. • Learn to keep score. Follow the RO/SO when he scores the other shooters. This allows you to pick up hints, tips, critiques, advice given to other participants. Don’t be a shade dweller; do your share of work (brassing, taping, etc). • Bring work gloves to help move things around. Nothing is heavy but getting a splinter or cut in your shooting hand during a shooting event is not convenient. • Bring a small first aid kit. • The local club that hosts my event does not currently ban the Blackhawk Serpa retention holster but they did acknowledge that with mis-use, you can have a ND. They also acknowledged that with mis-use of any holster, you can have a ND. • I recommend not buying super-expensive national match competition gear for your first IDPA unless you know you’re going to get deep into it. Cheap or borrowed gear is perfectly fine for your first time. • As soon as the timer’s buzzer goes off for your first few stages, it’s like the Neuralizer in Men In Black: your mind kinda goes blank. You have to concentrate your thoughts; make your actions deliberate; and do not focus on speed. • Everyone knows to KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER until you’re ready to fire; but not everyone has practiced the muscle mechanics of REMOVING YOUR FINGER FROM THE TRIGGER after you’ve finished your string and/or before you move/reload. • When you’re on deck, be on deck ready to go. On deck doesn’t just mean “next shooter.” Being ready to go saves time when you're dealing with a squad of 12+ shooters. • Pack a lunch with extra snacks. Fill that cooler with extra drinks. • Study the IDPA New Shooter Packet at http://sdps-idpa.org/forms/IDPA New Shooter Info.pdf • Because I believe it's so important to your first experience, I'll say it yet again: slow down. Do not focus on speed as a beginner. Invest in the deliberate pace a beginner should take. (You don't start a beginning piano player on Mozart, right.) • Have fun. Breathe. Relax. Smile. Rinse. Repeat. All that said, I'm hooked. I'll definitely be getting into IDPA. Deep into it.